Saturday, August 08, 2020

The magic of nature

Forest witch and her familiars
28 mm

Colors swirl in spiral skies
The trees stare back with willful eyes
The night doesn't frighten me
Cast a stone cast an eye
Water mirrors never lie
The earth is firm beneath your feet

This Bears Head figure took a while to grow on me once I had it in hand - I liked it, but didn't know exactly what to do with it. Luckily, I'd also bought an assortment of Philip Hynes' amazing animal figures, including this adorable little rabbit and squirrel!


I won't lie, I was watching a lot of "The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina" while painting this, but its vision of witches who by and large behave like Christians and just add "Satanic" in front of everything ("Satanic blessing", "dark baptism"... "evil church camp?") obviously didn't move me so much. So here she is, a crone in touch with nature and the living things of the deep woods. She may have her own morality, but I don't think she's hosting any Dark Baptisms or roasting any babies...

"You're outnumbered, witch!"
"You think death has any power here?  In my world, surrounded by life?

Happy little trees
28 mm scale

I also made my first trees! I used the basic method from this video (including homemade clump foliage), but there are lots of other good foliage and tree tutorials out there.  They're a bit sparse, but I think I achieved a somewhat natural look.

Definitely little.  Perhaps happy.

"I hope that's not releasing some kind of fumes" - my wife

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Return of the Shoggoth Masters

Elder Thing
28 mm scale

Unlike many of H. P. Lovecraft's horrors, the Elder Things were not supernatural or truly malicious in any way.  They were aliens who traveled to earth in the Cambrian era, founding a strange civilization and bio-engineering the dreaded Shoggoths as their servants.  Though hinted at in various eldritch volumes of the past, their existence was only truly discovered by Antarctic explorers from Miskatonic University in the 1930s, precipitating the loss of most of the expedition.

This alien from H.P. Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness is actually a figure I sculpted myself about 5 years ago... I primed it and everything, but I think what stalled me then was that I couldn't decide on a reasonable colour scheme.  If you look at fan art of Elder Things online, people seem to go with everything from "grim grey" to "tropical parrot with tentacles".  I finally decided to go with a bit of colour, but I tried to keep it muted or a bit desaturated... I don't think Elder Things are specifically "evil", but I didn't want it looking goofy either.

I made this piece out of greenstuff over a wooden bead and wire; the results were pretty detailed, but when I revisited it it was obvious the wings are not nearly as robust as they should be... one had broken off.  It definitely wouldn't do well as a gaming figure.  I think that if I made it today I'd also use a very different wing design, this one is a little too simple/static.  Oh well.  I still like that weird tool it's carrying.

He didn't remotely recognize the species, but he
figured politeness couldn't hurt.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Exobiology Major

First Contact
15mm scale

Dr. Phan watched in amazement as the roiling mass of spheroids churned this way and that, finally elevating itself to over two meters off the ground.  The individual globules seemed to grow and shrink smoothly, matter flowing between them in a faintly discernible phosphorescent process.  As she peered at the entity, it slowly arched forward, several large spheres taking up position an arm's length from her faceplate. Particles seemed to travel through its body, coalescing in a constellation of bright spots in the sphere closest to her. "Hello," she said, "Who are you?"

This piece was a "quick" (2 days) response to a friend; I asked for a prompt for my next piece and she offered "first interplanetary meeting".  The astronaut figure is from Ground Zero Games, the alien is my own design. I tried to come up with a truly unique concept for an intelligent alien: a sort of syncytial giant slime-mold-like entity that's not formless, but doesn't have a fixed skeleton or appendages either.  I wanted to hint at sensory structures that float free in the body and are recruited to whatever part is proximal to the object or direction of interest. 

On a technical level, the alien is just a collection of balls of greenstuff, stuck together as haphazardly as possible.  The blue life form on the ground is a mixture of blue paint, acrylic gel medium, and sand.  The photo backdrop was hastily painted today, I've never done that before!

Thursday, July 02, 2020

Watcher of the sandy sea

Desert dweller and solar droid
15 mm

Perhaps they're a roamer, seeking salvage or hidden wisdom in the deep desert.  A moisture farmer gleaning a living selling water pulled from the dry air.  Or a reclusive hermit, anxious to remain alone.  Whoever they are, along with their trusty but worn droid, repaired and rebuilt a dozen times, they probably know the ways of the desert as well as anyone ever has.

I've had these figures kicking around for a while... the human is from Alternative Armies HOF sci-fi range while the droid is from Ground Zero Games.  They're both converted a bit; I added the respirator pack and the antenna to the human (a definite improvement to a fairly generic sculpt!), the solar array to the droid. The human's attire is inspired by real life desert people - the Berbers of North Africa.  The colour coordination with the droid's solar array was unintentional, but looks pretty good.

"Sss-sss-sss, how are things huuuuman? All quiet out here?"
"You're the first visitors in weeks. Will you share water?"
"Sss... it would be an honour."

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Indigenous spirit of greed

28mm scale

Blood is on the table and the mouths are chokin'...
But I'm goin' hungry

Even if this wendigo figure from Bears Head Miniatures has more in common with recent horror movie depictions than traditional Anishnaabe legends, it's still a terrifying beast. It lurches through the snow, ravenous mouth forever hungry, its distinctly human forelimbs betraying its origins as an utterly corrupted soul.

In addition to reinforcing taboos against cannibalism, it's not hard to understand why a society living on the land, who relied on each other's cooperation every day, would believe that greed and selfishness could literally make you a monster.  The wendigo can also be understood as a symbol for rapacious acquisitiveness that throws an individual out of harmony with their community and environment... probably a metaphor worth paying attention to in our time.

On a technical note, I based this figure on a craft plywood disc covered in Fimo.  It's metal so I was able to sculpt the stump and rocks, and bake it, figure and all, before adding the skull and a stick as a taller tree trunk.  I used Golden acrylic gel medium mixed with bluish-white paint, sprinkled with baking soda when still wet, as the snow. Hopefully this will avoid it yellowing in the future.

A more traditional depiction of the wendigo,
by Ojibwe artist Norval Morrisseau

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Nec-romance on the Nile

Mummy Couple
28 mm

My boyfriend's back
and you're gonna be in trouble

I recently picked up this charming pair of mummies from Bears Head Miniatures' latest Kickstarter.  I've enjoyed painting mummies in the past; they're usually a quick job because it's hard to fuss over something that's basically a bundle of leathery skin and brittle rags.  That said, I really like these lurching, malevolent sculpts, so make them a bit special I gave them some hieroglyphic bases:

I'll admit, I don't think these say anything in particular, I just picked some symbols that weren't too hard to make. The one on the right does contain part of the cartouche of Thutmose III, so perhaps that's who the male here is (prior to his final rest in the Cairo Museum)...

Exploring a newly-unearthed tomb, Lord Smedley-Smythe
was sure the rustling he heard was just the wind...

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Arashikage Clan ninja brothers

Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow

The stars are burning bright 
like some mystery uncovered
I'll keep moving through the dark
with you in my heart
My blood brother

Working on the somewhat lacklustre ninjas featured in my last post gave me a few pretty decent ideas for follow-up projects. This is definitely the best of the lot.

Like a lot of people my age, I had a substantial collection of GI Joe toys as the child in the 80s. And these were by far the coolest. These two mysterious characters, one Joe and one Cobra, were created to tie in with the contemporary ninja craze. I was never familiar with a lot of the extensive background presented in the comic books, but the Coles' Notes version is that Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow were both adopted and trained by a clan of ninjas called the Arashikage. Storm Shadow was implicated in their master's murder and fled, joining Cobra, while Snake Eyes was recruited by GI Joe.

Storm Shadow's archery skill is a big part of his character so I was lucky the Rebel minis bow ninja is one of the best sculpts; I just added an arrow.  Snake Eyes is a conversion of a figure that I've painted before, I just gave him a sword and his signature mask and Uzi SMG.

And thanks to Doctor Merkury for always providing so, so much fantastic 80's toy theme inspiration :)

"I must complete Cobra's mission,
Snake Eyes.  Don't make me do this..."